When my firstborn, Neal, was about four months old, I met a few moms at the mall. These were the moms I immediately looked up to because they had babies 2 months older than Neal, which, at the time, represented light-years of experience. Whatever they did, I did. Whatever they recommended, I bought. Whatever advice they gave me, I implemented. I had no idea what I was doing and so I was at their mercy. Little did they know what they were about to tell me would change the way I cleaned my home – to this day!
That day at the mall, as we pushed the babes in Graco strollers, they were commenting to each other how hard it was to be a Flylady. I naturally questioned what the heck a Flylady was. They tried to explain that it was a person who followed the home-keeping system from the book Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley (the self-proclaimed Flylady), and their houses were looking amazing because of it. I didn’t fully understand, but immediately went home, ordered the book and looked up the website. I was completely amazed that someone came up with a system to keep a house clean! And so I made it my manifesto.
Given that it is March and we are digging into Spring Cleaning here at Grace in the Race, I turned to the Flylady for a refresher on what she has to say about it and came across chapter nine ironically entitled, “You Never Have to Spring Clean Again.”
Just kidding . . . the Flylady’s system is based on the premise that by doing a little bit each day, you can have an organized and clean home, hence avoiding the need for a major-overhauling-Spring Cleaning. Her mantra is: you’ll never have C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) if you just follow her system! And so I did. I liked and implemented a lot of her strategies, but found I didn’t like everything so I adapted it to suit my life. Flylady, like many other experts, has had a part in influencing us at Grace in the Race and has impacted how we developed our GracePace at home training (coming soon!).
GracePace at home will also prevent C.H.A.O.S. Imagine your doorbell rings, and it’s a fellow PTO mom dropping off some flyers for next month’s Parents’ Night Out event. Instead of making excuses about the state of your house, she’s in awe about how clean your house is! How would you feel if your mother-in-law popped over and you didn’t get a pit in your stomach because the kitchen wasn’t sparkly clean?
A clean and organized home CAN be a reality. You don’t have to Marie Kondo your house, or join a 30-day declutter challenge (although those are pretty fun and we may add one to our Grace Experiment private group once in a while). But the reality is that by doing a little each day, nothing will get completely out of control.
GracePace at home is all about routines. Not just daily and weekly routines, but monthly, quarterly and annual routines as well. It’s also about grace. Having a clean and organized home doesn’t mean a picture-perfect home. Is that even possible? (asking for a friend). By the way, have you dropped the flyers to Rachel’s house yet? Hers is an example of a work in progress . . . and that’s grace!
We’ll be digging into GracePace at home in a future training, but for the sake of your homes now and the spring cleaning that is undoubtedly a necessity, here’s what I want you to start implementing . . .
Decide what needs to be done every day. Break it up into morning and evening routines and repeat them every day. Don’t go overboard – THIS IS KEY. Make sure your routines are easy to accomplish! Tasks, like doing the dishes and cleaning your kitchen each night (Rachel, are you getting this?) and starting and rotating laundry each morning, will get you started.
Decide what needs to be done every week. Divide those items up into easy to manage tasks throughout the week . . . water the plants on Mondays, take out the garbage on Tuesdays, clean out your purse on Wednesdays. The weekly tasks should take no more than five minutes a day!
Here we will break the month into four Targets and focus on deep cleaning those areas for one week of the month. This is the cleaning that chapter 9 of Sink Reflections refers to with the title “You Never Have to Spring Clean Again”.
- Target 1: Living Spaces
- Target 2: Kitchen
- Target 3: Master Suite
- Target 4: Childrens’ Rooms
Make a detailed cleaning list of everything that would need to be done to deep clean these areas. When it’s time to focus on that Target, you focus on the top priorities from your detailed list. You’ll be hitting that Target again next month, so don’t worry about completing everything. In fact, you’ll only spend about 15 minutes on each Target a few times a week.
“But, Amanda,” you say, “I have a ‘friend’ whose house is a disaster and needs their whole house cleaned NOW, TODAY. What should I tell them?”
Rachel butting in: “Roger that, mama, call my cleaning lady.“
Amanda: No, Rachel, we’re trying to teach them that this is a manageable task! . . . I’d direct you back to Flylady who has a Marathon Cleaning strategy consisting of 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off:
1. Get dressed all the way to your shoes. You’ll feel more supported and faster!
Rachel: Okay, so not the cute shoes, the fast shoes, got it.
2. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes working in one room, perhaps the kitchen. Do all the dishes and shine your sink. Work fast.
Rachel: Did you read Seize the Night? You know I have a sink full of dishes!
3. When the timer goes off, set it again and work on the living/family room. Take a garbage bag with you if needed.
Rachel: Why is there garbage in the family room? Amanda, tell ‘em about the time you found orange peels hidden in the couch cushions!
4. Back in the kitchen set the timer for 15 more minutes and work on clearing the counters. Do not get sidetracked.
Rachel: So, this would be a bad time to check Instagram?
5. Take a break! Set a timer for 15 minutes and drink a bunch of water and relax.
Rachel: I seriously already made my steps for the day. These fast shoes were worth every penny!
6. Spend 15 minutes in the bathroom. Do not get sidetracked and start a load of laundry while you’re picking towels up off the bathroom floor.
Rachel: You mean cleaning it, right?
7. Go back to the living room for 15 minutes.
Rachel: Note to self – check for orange peels.
8. Keep going like this, rotating 15 minute tasks so you don’t get bored, sidetracked or sucked in.
Rachel: I have to admit this really does make a daunting task manageable!
9. Every 45 minutes take a 15 minute break.
Rachel: While I’m admitting things, I’ll also admit that the breaks are my favorite part. They make the hard work worth it! And, it’s actually going by really fast. (Must be the shoes.)
The main point here is to stay focused on one job for 15 minutes and make sure to rest 15 minutes out of every hour. When Rachel and I were at the High Performance Experience conference in San Diego, Brendon Burchard spoke the same truth. He highly encouraged many small breaks throughout the workday to keep you from burning out. He urges everyone to take 50 minute strategic resets to help your mind-body activation. You may want to push through, to get it all done. You’ll be tempted to say there’s no time for breaks, but these breaks are actually what allows us to ultimately push through. Here are some ideas for a mind-body activation resets:
- Drink some water and admire the work you’ve done so far
- Drink some water and call your mom
- Drink some water and do some stretches
- Drink some water and do a meditation
- Drink some water and take a few laps around the block
- Drink some water and scroll through your email/social feed (set a timer if you choose this option so you don’t get sucked in).
Remember that GracePace at home also includes Quarterly Routines. In the spring months, there will likely be some additional ‘Spring Cleaning’ but with the daily, weekly and monthly jobs done, it won’t be as big of a task as you think. Read Rachel’s story about Spring Cleaning for additional perspective and use our Spring Cleaning Checklists from our Spring Chaos Survival Kit. Here is where you’ll do the things to pack winter away and switch over to spring but you won’t have to worry about the baseboards, the cobwebs or the inside of the microwave. Those have been on a regular rotation in your Targets.
There are some household tasks that don’t need much attention, thank goodness . . . cleaning out the storage room in the basement, organizing the linen closet, or shredding papers from the filing cabinet. I take all of these and break them up over the course of the year. Then it doesn’t seem so bad and I’m never overwhelmed by the state of my closets, junk drawers and other secret hiding places.
If this seems overwhelming, you may be feeling like I first did when I learned about Flylady. Although her method of teaching was a bit confusing, Rachel and I have designed the GracePace course to be easy to understand and easy to follow. We also have ideas to get the whole family involved so you don’t have to go this alone. GracePace courses are coming soon and will even include a handy app to keep you on track! We have discovered practical and efficient ways to maintain our homes. We can’t wait to share all the sparkly details.
Do you need a system to finally get a handle on your housework? Would routines that require only a small amount of work every day be something you could commit to? Sign-up to get more information about GracePace classes (and our handy app) that are coming soon.